Educational Opportunities

Clinical Externship Opportunities

Third or fourth-year veterinary school students frequently complete a clinical rotation with one of PVSEC's eleven clinical departments (Anesthesiology, Cardiology, Dentistry, Dermatology, Emergency, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Radiology, and Surgery.)

Please note the following:

  1. Space is limited with the following departments: Cardiology, Dentistry, Dermatology, Oncology, and Ophthalmology.
  2. Externships are available for students studying at AVMA accredited schools.
  3. Students must be in their clinical year of veterinary school.
  4. We are unable to support a multilingual environment. A good grasp of the English language is required.
  5. We are unable to provide housing accommodations.
  6. The minimum period for externships and per service is one week, though we prefer at least a two-week externship to get to know our students.
  7. Evaluations take 4-6 weeks to complete.
  8. PVSEC is unable to host externs during the following weeks:
    • First two weeks of January
    • Last week of June
    • First two weeks of July
    • Last two weeks of December

Veterinary school students interested in pursuing a clinical externship at PVSEC are encouraged to complete the clinical externship request form. Please upload your CV/resume and your most recent unofficial transcript.

For further information on clinical externships, please email

Internship Opportunities

Long before the June 2008 founding of Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center (PVSEC), the furthering of the educational pursuits of veterinarians and veterinary technicians has been a priority to the doctors and staff of PVSEC. Starting in July 2009, we welcomed our first class of interns to our Small Animal Medicine/Surgery rotating internship. During the initial year of the PVSEC internship program, two of the three interns applied for residencies and both matched to their desired residency programs!

PVSEC is the most comprehensive veterinary referral and emergency center in Western Pennsylvania, including 17 veterinary faculty members, representing eight clinical areas of expertise. The 31,000 square-foot hospital is located in the North Hills area of Pittsburgh, PA.

Veterinarians who have graduated (or, prior to the internship, will graduate) from AVMA accredited veterinary schools (or ECVFG equivalent) are encouraged to apply. Acquisition of a Pennsylvania state license will be required prior to start of the internship program.

Goals of the internship program

Interns will actively participate in a small animal medicine, surgery and emergency programs, as well as rotate through all the specialty services while under the direct supervision of board certified specialists. Following completion of core rotations, the intern will be able to customize his/her program through elective rotations. Interns will also participate in grand rounds, morbidity and mortality rounds, lectures, and journal clubs. Interns will share emergency duty and will be required to stay on site during evening and weekend shifts. Interns at PVSEC are never on-site without senior staff veterinarians.

  1. Graduate competent well-rounded doctors. Focus on developing thorough physical examination and history taking skills to enable veterinarians to localize the problem, create an accurate differential list/diagnostic plan and appropriate treatment plan.
  2. Develop communication skills. Effective communication with clients, other colleagues, and specialists will facilitate good patient care and confidence.
  3. Assist specialists in consultations, surgeries, case management, and patient care. Active participation in cases will strengthen goals 1 & 2 above.
  4. Build an exceptional internship program. Feedback from interns and staff is evaluated regularly so we can improve the program for the current interns and future internship classes.
  5. Provide mentorship and guidance to better serve the intern's long term educational goals (i.e. residency placement, employment, etc).

Intern duties

  1. Facilitate receiving cases into the hospital by taking a history and performing physical examinations on the patient.
  2. Provide accurate monitoring/assessment of hospitalized cases.
  3. Be prepared for rounds. SOAP cases, know test results, etc. as outlined by the individual service the intern is rotating through.
  4. Be prepared for consultations/surgeries on respective specialty service rotations. Be informed about disease process/surgeries prior to the appointment/procedure.
  5. Discharge instructions should be completed for each patient (depending on the rotation). Interns may also be required to go over complicated discharges with a client, including explaining test results, how to handle/carry post-op patients, bandage management, etc.
  6. Primary case responsibility during Emergency rotations. Back-up will be provided by on-site critical care/emergency doctors, and by specialists (internal medicine, surgery, neurology, and ophthalmology) on call.
  7. Communicate with clients as instructed by the specialists.
  8. Computerized record entries must be reviewed and approved by the primary specialists supervising the case. When are assigned primary case responsibility while on the emergency service, the records can be reviewed if requested before finalized.
  9. Participate in daily case rounds with service clinician. Attendance at weekly lectures, M & M rounds, grand rounds, and journal club sessions is mandatory and interns are expected to be on time and prepared.
  10. Always put forth a professional image. Scrubs or professional attire are mandatory for both doctors and technicians.
  11. Professional attitude and demeanor must be maintained by all staff members at all times. We believe that professional conduct encompasses tolerance and respect for others including staff, coworkers and referring veterinarians.

General Rotation Outline

All interns will spend the bulk of their time divided between the 3 main services within the hospital: surgery, internal medicine, and emergency. Each intern will rotate through each for one-month blocks. Throughout the year, the interns will also rotate through all specialty services within the hospital (dermatology, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology). Dentistry elective can be arranged in advance, if an intern is interested. Election blocks can also be used for rotation at other specialty hospitals or academic institutions other than PVSEC but only if the specialty/rotation is not offered within PVSEC and must be arranged by the intern and approved by the internship committee well in advance.


Participation in weekly rounds is mandatory and will be used for lectures from specialists, outside guest specialty lectures, journal article discussion. Interns will also present rounds throughout the year in the form of morbidity and mortality rounds (M & M) and grand rounds. Daily case rounds and topic rounds with the specialists will occur and vary in form of presentation from service to service.

Professional Development Time

Interns are allowed two weeks (or 10 days of scheduled working days) of paid leave that can be used at their discretion. We highly encourage the interns to use this time to further strengthen their interest in a future field of study (visiting programs for residency, future employment) or for interviews.

Publication by the Intern

Although not required, a publication of a case report, retrospective study, etc. is encouraged during your time here at PVSEC. This can be used to strengthen your application for residencies, work closely with specialists, and increase knowledge base on a particular subject. Please discuss any potential cases/ideas with your mentors or your supervising clinician.


Each intern will be assigned a faculty mentor to strengthen the intern's professional goals. The mentor will be assigned based on the intern's primary area of interest.

How to apply

The PVSEC Small Animal Rotating Internship application must be made online at Be sure to check this site for deadlines and requirements relating to the application process.

For further information on the internship program, please email

Current Interns

Dr. Kelsey Arrufat
Dr. Linda Okonkowski
Dr. Lindsey Jett
Dr. Muhammad Harfoush
Dr. Tessa Smith